Public Advocate Tips On Storm Cleanup

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					Frequently Asked Questions


The Public Advocate's Department of Constituent Services has compiled
the following list of tips and frequently asked questions to assist New
Yorkers with clean up efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

We also encourage New Yorkers to refer to the NYC Office of Emergency
Management and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's
"Recovering After Hurricane Irene" guide, which is available at:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/ehs/guidance-post-irene.pdf

1. Who should I contact to report storm damage or flooding in my
   community?
2. Will my homeowners or renters insurance cover storm and flood
   damage?
3. How do I file an insurance claim?
4. I am a renter and my furniture was damaged, can I make a claim?
5. What should I do if I have water in my basement?
6. What should I do after I drain my basement?
7. How do I clean up mold?
8. If I am a food stamp recipient and I lost food during the storm can I get
   additional assistance?
9. How can I learn more about storm-related government assistance
   programs?


1. Who should I contact to report storm damage or
   flooding in my community?

New Yorkers can report flooding, downed trees, unstable sidewalk sheds
or scaffolds, or other storm-related clean-up needs by calling 311.

The City is also collecting reports from homes and business owners
whose property was damaged during Hurricane Irene. The information will
be used to help the City estimate the storm's total effect on city residents
and employees, which is necessary for the City to qualify for disaster relief
assistance. To file a damage report online, visit http://on.nyc.gov/ofrMsp

Source: NYC Office of Emergency Management
(http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/nycsevereweather/weather_home.shtml)


2. Will my homeowners or renters insurance cover
   storm and flood damage?

Standard homeowners or renters insurance does not cover flooding, but it
may cover other types of water damage from storms. For insurance
purposes, flooding generally refers to water that enters your house at the
ground level as the result of the rising and overflowing of a body of water
onto normally dry land. Water damage, by contrast, occurs when water
damages your home before coming in contact with the ground (for
example, if rain soaks through your roof).

Source: National Flood Insurance Program (http://www.floodsmart.gov), Insurance
Buyers Guide (http://www.insbuyer.com/floodinsurance.htm)



3. How do I file an insurance claim?

   Contact your agent or company representative to prepare a Notice of
    Loss form. It is important to begin this process immediately. All flood
    insurance policies require you to give prompt written notice of loss.
   Separate damaged items from non-damaged items.                     Don’t throw
    anything away before an adjuster has seen it.
   Make a room-by-room inventory of the damaged items, including
    pictures or a description, the cost, brand name and model.
   Create a list of any structural damage to show the adjuster. If
    possible, photograph the outside of the premises, showing any
    damage or flooding. Also, photograph the inside of the premises,
    showing the damaged property and the height of the water if your
    property was flooded.
   Arrange a visit with an adjuster from the insurance company.
    Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 24-48 hours after
    receiving your notice of loss. When the adjuster visits your property,
    let him or her know if you need an advance or partial payment of loss.
   Your claim is payable after you and the insurer agree on the amount
    of damages and the insurer receives your complete, accurate and
    signed Proof of Loss.

Source: National Flood Insurance Program, Flood Insurance Claims Handbook, FEMA F-
687, February 2009 (http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=2184) and FEMA’s
Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim (http://www.fema.gov/rebuild/recover/claim.shtm)



4. I am a renter and my furniture was damaged, can I
   make a claim?

Please contact 311 and your landlord to report the flooding and damage. If
your landlord has flood insurance, you may be covered. Alternatively, if
you purchased flood insurance, contact your insurance company and
follow the instructions above.

You may also qualify for federal assistance through the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in which non-housing needs
that were damaged (i.e. clothing, a car, furniture, etc) can be repaired or
purchased. For more information, visit: www.fema.gov or contact the
FEMA Helpline at 1‐800‐621‐FEMA. To see if you are eligible for
assistance, you can take an anonymous pre-screening questionnaire
online at: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/


5. What should I do if I have water in my basement?

If your basement is severely flooded, take precautions before pumping out
the water. Water in your basement may be helping to stabilize the
basement walls against pressure from the outside. If you drain your
basement too quickly, the outsize pressure can cause the basement floor
and walls to crack and collapse.
   Be sure the electricity is off before entering a flooded basement. For
    insurance purposes, it’s also a good idea to take pictures of the
    flooding before beginning work.
   When the water is no longer covering the ground surrounding your
    house, you can begin pumping the water from your basement.
    CAUTION: Do not use gasoline-powered pumps or generators
    indoors as they produce deadly carbon monoxide exhaust fumes.
   In the case of severe flooding, pump out the water in stages.
    Decrease water level by 2 to 3 feet, mark the water level, and wait
    overnight. If the water went back up overnight and covered your
    mark, it’s too early to drain your basement. In these cases, wait
    another 24 hours and repeat this process.

Source: FloodSafe, a Publication of FEMA and WMD Emergency Management Division
and Washington Military Department, Emergency Management Division
(http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/FloodSafe_HowTo.shtml)



6. What should I do after I drain my basement?

Drying and disinfecting your basement is critically important to prevent the
growth of dangerous mold.

   Use a shovel to remove any mud from your basement. Mud left
    behind by floodwaters poses a health hazard and will be more difficult
    to remove after it dries.
   Wash off the walls and floors with clean water and then disinfect them
    with a solution of 1 ½ cups of liquid chlorine bleach to a gallon of fresh
    water. CAUTION: NEVER mix bleach and ammonia cleaning
    products. This will produce deadly chlorine gas.
   Clean and disinfect all vents or registers of heating and air
    conditioning ducts, the wall covers for wall switches and outlets, and
    any flexible ducting, including dryer connections that were exposed to
    water.
   Check your water system, including drains and utility connections, for
    leaks, breaks, and loose fittings.
   Before turning on the electricity, check your incoming electrical
    service for any damage. Replace any wiring, switches and/or outlets
    that were submerged or got wet during the flood. We recommend you
    retain the services of a certified professional.
   To help dry out your home and reduce odors, run fans and
    dehumidifiers.
   Depending on the severity of flooding and type of the building
    materials used in your basement, all or part of your walls may need to
    be replaced. Wallboard that has been soaked by floodwater can
    present a permanent health hazard. Plaster and paneling can often
    be saved, but you will need to get air circulating in the wall cavities to
    dry the studs and sills.

Source: FloodSafe, a Publication of FEMA and WMD Emergency Management Division;
Washington Military Department, Emergency Management Division
(http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/FloodSafe_HowTo.shtml); NYC Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/ehs/guidance-
post-irene.pdf); and the Red Cross and FEMA, Repairing Your Flooded Home



7. How do I clean up mold?

Exposure to mold can have serious health effects including allergic
reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints. It is important to
clean up mold as soon as you notice it to prevent serious problems.

   For small amounts of mold (less than 3 feet by 3 feet), you should be
    able to handle the clean-up yourself. For large jobs or if you have any
    mold allergies, you should contact a certified professional who has
    experience with mold removal. If the water and/or mold damage was
    caused by sewage or other contaminated water, a professional is also
    highly recommended.
   Wear waterproof gloves, goggles and a face mask when cleaning.
   Scrubbing the mold off hard surfaces using soap or a detergent and
    water, then dry completely
   Throw away anything that touches the mold, including absorbent or
    porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet.
   Keep a close eye on surfaces to ensure that the mold does not come
    back. If mold continues to reappear, consult a professional.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your
Home (http://www.epa.gov/mold/pdfs/moldguide.pdf) and NYC Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ehs/ehsfloods.shtml)

8. If I am a food stamp recipient and I lost food
   during the storm can I get additional assistance?

If you are receiving food stamps and you lost food that you purchased with
your food stamp benefit during the storm, you can be reimbursed for the
monetary value of that food. To request replacement benefits, you must
report the loss at a local food stamp center within ten days of the loss, and
follow up by completing a request form (ldss-2291) within ten days of your
reporting the loss.

For assistance, call the Food Bank for New York City at 212.894.8060 or
download the request form at: http://bit.ly/nEou09

Source: Food Bank for New York
(http://www.foodbanknyc.org/news/hurricane-irene-food-stamp-
replacement-notice)


9. How can I learn more about storm-related
   government assistance programs?

To see if you qualify for government assistance through the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, please visit: www.fema.gov or contact
the FEMA Helpline at 1‐800‐621‐FEMA. To take an anonymous pre-
screening questionnaire online, visit http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
Office of New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
   1 Centre Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10007
       (212) 669-7200 | www.advocate.nyc.gov

				
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